Quote of the day – on attitudes to corporate responsibility

Jolyon Maugham

Jolyon Maugham

Our quote of the day comes from Jolyon Maugham, a UK tax barrister. Our quote of the day is the bit in bold, which is a sign of how much success we and our allies have had in changing the debates:

Survey after survey places tax first amongst CSR concerns. Tax structured transactions are in near mortal decline. And litigating even vanilla transactions is perceived to carry prohibitive reputational risks. Yet a route to take matters forward remains elusive.

But here’s a prescription. Business needs to take the initiative. The defensive formulation – “we comply with all relevant tax laws” – will no longer do for a public inflamed on a diet of double Irish and Dutch sandwiches.

Boards need to take ownership of the tax issue. They should publish, with their annual reports, statements of tax policy. What strategy should the tax department pursue? What is the target rate of tax on corporate gains? Will the Group transact purely for tax advantages?”

Some good ideas in this last paragraph.

And now, a quote from our own director John Christensen, to illustrate just how far the thinking has moved, at least in Britain. It concerns a time when he stood up in a meeting about corporate responsibility at Chatham House in London in 2004, urged people to consider that large corporations should consider that paying tax was central to their claims of social responsibility.

“They looked me as if I’d left a dog turd in the middle of the table. When I sat down it felt like there was a 30 second silence, accompanied by looks of utter hostility from all around me. Oh boy. My knees were trembling, my blood was pounding.”

So there’s been some progress. There is plenty of grounds for continued skepticism, for sure, but progress it is.

More thinking on tax and corporate responsibility from David Quentin, here.



Related Posts

UN must defend target to curtail multinational companies’ tax abuse

Photo by Luca Santori, Creative Commons LicenseThe Tax Justice Network, The Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice call on the UN Secretary General to make sure the commitment to action on tax abuses by multinational companies remains part of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.


The BVI: Responsible for worldwide tax losses of $37.5 billion a year

BVI report blogAn extraordinary report by consultants Capital Economics, for BVI Finance, claims that the British Virgin Islands are responsible for $1.5 trillion of assets invested around the world, and that these result in 2.2 million jobs and $15 billion in tax revenue. A better approximation would be that the BVI imposes global tax losses of $37.5 […]


Event: Making Tax Work for Women in the UK and Globally

Invitation_ Tax and Gender eventOn Wednesday 28th June 2017 at 16.30 our very own Liz Nelson will be speaking at an event in London that aims to bring together gender and tax justice advocates to highlight the need for coherent and gender-responsive fiscal policies to safeguard the rights of women and girls both in the UK and globally. The […]


Historic event on women, human rights and tax justice in Bogota

BogotaLast week civil society organisations, researchers, labour union activists and policy makers met in Bogota, Colombia to explore how tax justice issues can ensure governments, multinational corporations and others meet their obligations to women in order to secure their full range of human rights. The Women’s Rights and Tax Justice conference opened with a conversation […]


The Offshore Wrapper: the Panama Papers, one year on

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceWelcome to the Offshore Wrapper – your weekly update from TJN.  Happy Paniversary! This week it’s been one year since the Panama Papers were leaked, and a number of organisations around the world have been marking the occasion though the global week of action for tax justice. In London, activists from the TJN and the […]


One thought on “Quote of the day – on attitudes to corporate responsibility

  1. Geoffrey Willett says:

    I am naturally pro capitalism, as a bad system, but the best we’ve seen. You cannot blame a younger generation for looking at the behaviours of companies & tax advisors like KPMG, and deciding that it doesn’t work, we need something different.

    Not only the Googles of this world, but anyone who cheats on transfer pricing, just because they can use/abuse laws of several countries, to move all profits to low tax jurisdictions, they destroy the very economy, where they truly made their profits! It is illogical in the long term, if you don’t support the tax system of the well off countries, where you make your profits, then that country will be poorer & lead to lower incomes generally for the people & hence lower profits for the company.

    Look at the middle class in America, this taxt theft, has left all levels of US govt short of money to build/maintain infrastructure, pay teachers, firemen, public servants in general, with the top 1% ticking all their money overseas, or what remains in the US taxed at a ridiculous low %. You want revolution, keep going like this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top